Paul Dirac’s PhD Thesis: the First Ever Written on Quantum Mechanics

Paul Dirac's PhD thesis

Paul Dirac is real-life Sheldon Cooper. And Dirac’s PhD thesis is an unparalleled masterpiece in the field of science. At the incredibly young age of 24, Dirac submitted a revolutionary dissertation laying the foundational ideas of the general theory of quantum mechanics, considered one of the most significant breakthroughs in science. The thesis is like no other, combining a child’s tidy writing and an extraterrestrial’s complex symbols. It is a fascinating work that is significant for its intellectual depth and the exceptional thought process and research that went into it. It continues to inspire and challenge scientists to this day.

Paul Diracs Ph.D. Thesis
Paul Dirac’s PhD thesis

The world of quantum mechanics has always been a topic of fascination for many people, including young scientists. One of the brightest minds to ever grace this field is Paul A. M. Dirac, who wrote his Ph.D. thesis on the subject at the University of Cambridge. Dirac’s dissertation is notable for being the first-ever written on quantum mechanics, making it an important milestone in the field.

Paul Diracs Ph.D. Thesis Content
Paul Dirac’s Ph.D. Thesis Content

Paul Dirac’s PhD thesis: Quantum Mechanics

Paul Dirac’s PhD thesis, titled “Quantum Mechanics,” was a significant contribution to the field of quantum physics. The dissertation delved deep into the mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics and explored topics such as algebraic axioms, quantum numbers, and the motion of a particle within a central field. His dissertation was more remarkable because it was primarily based on his research rather than just a summary of past research and experiments. This was one of the reasons why Dirac’s dissertation was seen as an important piece of work.

One of the most interesting aspects of Paul Dirac’s PhD thesis is the handwritten notes that he included in it. The notes give us a glimpse into Dirac’s thought processes and how he worked through complex problems. One example is the page where he wrote out the equations of motion for a particle under the influence of a central force. After several iterations, he finally arrived at the correct formula, later known as the Dirac equation. It is fascinating to see how he arrived at such a significant equation through his notes.

Paul Diracs Ph.D. Thesis Notes
Paul Dirac’s Ph.D. Thesis Notes

Another interesting thing about Dirac’s handwritten notes is that they are filled with notations and symbols that only he could understand. He used his unique notation system for algebraic expressions, making it easier to work through problems. While it might be challenging for someone unfamiliar with his system to read through his notes, they are a testament to the fact that he was a genius who saw mathematics in a different light.

Paul Diracs Ph.D. Thesis Notes 2
Paul Dirac’s Ph.D. Thesis Notes

Aside from his handwritten notes, Dirac’s preface was also notable. In it, he acknowledged the work of several other scientists who were also exploring the field of quantum mechanics. He also explained his research in a way that was accessible to his peers and the general public. Dirac’s writing style was clear and concise, making his dissertation enjoyable for anyone interested in the subject.

Paul Dirac’s handwritten notes for his Ph.D. thesis testify to his brilliance and contributions to the quantum mechanics field. His dissertation was an essential milestone in the field, and the handwritten notes he included in it are a fascinating insight into his thinking process. Dirac’s research on quantum mechanics opened up new avenues of thought and sparked creative thinking in many scientists. Today, his legacy lives on, inspiring new scientists to explore the fascinating world of quantum mechanics.

You may also find these interesting:The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the AtomIntroduction to Quantum MechanicsThe Feynman Lectures on Physics22 Best Physics Textbooks, According to a Harvard Ph.D. Student in PhysicsBest Physics Textbooks to Learn Physics
Ali Kaya


Ali Kaya

This is Ali. Bespectacled and mustachioed father, math blogger, and soccer player. I also do consult for global math and science startups.

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